Russian activists assail government treason bill

Russian rights activists say that a new law drafted by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's Cabinet would allow authorities to label any government critic a traitor. The draft extends the definition of treason from breaching Russia's external security to damage to the nation's constitutional order, sovereignty or territorial integrity. A group of prominent rights activists, including head of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva and head of Civic Assistance Svetlana Gannushkina, said in a statement Wednesday that passage of the bill would return the nation's justice system to the times of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's purges. The government systematically rolled back Russia's post-Soviet political freedoms during Putin's eight-year presidential tenure.